Canada's para-nordic team wins historic bronze at worlds

Canada’s para-nordic team made history. The squad, consisting of Brian McKeever (Canmore, Alta.) his guide Graham Nishikawa (Whitehorse), Emily Young (Vancouver) and Mark Arendz (Hartsville, P.E.I.), won a bronze medal at the para-nordic world championships in Finsterau, Germany on Wednesday.

Brian McKeever, Graham Nishikawa, Emily Young and Mark Arendz claim 1st-ever relay medal

Brian McKeever, Graham Nishikawa, Emily Young and Mark Arendz won bronze in the cross country open relay on Wednesday. 2:29

Canada's para-nordic team made history on Wednesday.

The squad, consisting of Brian McKeever (Canmore, Alta.) his guide Graham Nishikawa (Whitehorse), Emily Young (Vancouver) and Mark Arendz (Hartsville, P.E.I.), won a bronze medal at the para-nordic world championships in Finsterau, Germany.

The team posted a combined time of 24 minutes 53.40 seconds in the unique relay format that is open to a combination of men or women teams. France won gold with a time of 23:55.90. Norway placed second at 24:19.70.

Each athlete skis at least one 2.5 kilometre leg and skiers are given percentages based on their disability classification.

"It is pretty awesome to have such a great result today with the boys, and finally snag my first world championship medal," said Young, who was making just her third ever relay start while competing in just her second World Championships. "The race was a rough one. The weather is getting warmer, and the snow softer, which is making it more tiring for sure."

Young, a former wrestler who suffered an injury to her right arm during a training camp in 2009, was the only woman out of the top-four teams to compete.

"Being one of the only girls out there, it was tough to ski against the men's field but I gave my best effort, and that was all I could do. I just had to remember to ski my race, and know that I would likely fall behind a bit. I skied the fastest so far on this course," said Young. "It was a very exciting race and I am very proud of the team."

McKeever and Nishikawa were competing in their first event at these world championships, while Arendz has already won a gold and silver in the biathlon events this week.

"The boys did such a great job to close the gap and grab the bronze," said Young. "This was a deep field. The conditions were so tough, and without our wax techs we wouldn't have got around the course as fast as we did. We had some of the best skis out there once again today."

Canada's previous best para-nordic relay finish at a major event came at the 2014 Paralympics, where it finished fourth in Sochi. 

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